Archer likely to hit the bull's eye
Lean and frail, she could be mistaken for a docile woman. But PK Jayalakshmi, 29, is a martial art exponent and a Congress candidate to boot. Contesting from the tribal-dominated Mananthawady (northern Wayanad district), she is also a former state and university champion in archery.india Updated: Apr 11, 2011 19:49 IST
Lean and frail, she could be mistaken for a docile woman. But PK Jayalakshmi, 29, is a martial art exponent and a Congress candidate to boot. Contesting from the tribal-dominated Mananthawady (northern Wayanad district), she is also a former state and university champion in archery.
A pick of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, she is one of the first woman graduates from her community, Kuruchiya, a tribal group known for its martial background. They were the backbone of an uprising in south India against the British East India Company in the early eighteenth century.
"Traditionally we are born fighters. My martial background really helps me. Like in archery I am more focused, to the point, in politics,” said Jayalakshmi, a product of Kannur University.
She was one among the 12-odd recruits of Gandhi, after months were spent on talent search in student and youth bodies.
"I was really shocked (pleasantly) when my name figured on the candidates’ list," said Jayalakshmi, unmarried.
A Youth Congress activist, she entered the electoral fray in 2006 by becoming a member of the gram panchayat. Later she became panchayat chief, and hogged the limelight when her organisation bagged the national award for implementing the National Rural Employment Scheme, bringing down the high level of farmer suicides the place was known for.
The Congress’s young brigade soon took note of this grassroots leader, who spends most of her time among the masses.
When south Indian director Hariharan made a film on Pazhassi Raja, a king who died fighting the British, she and her sister were there to train the main actors in archery, kalari payattu (traditional martial art form of Kerala) and guerilla warfare.
Gandhi, who was on a two-day tour to the state, came all the way to Mananthawady (famous for its pepper, cardamom and tourist destinations) to boost her morale. “Look she’s one among you. She will be an asset," Rahul showered praise on the young candidate.
Close to 40,000 tribal voters play a crucial role here. She’s taking on the CPI(M)’s sitting MLA, KC Kunhiraman.
Going by the current trends, it will be easy for her to hit the bull’s eye.